I cannot imagine going back to the old ways. Jeffery Kearney on how getting the right support makes all the difference.

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Jeffery Kearney is a life-long caregiver currently coordinating care for his mother from afar in Washington, DC. He’s always played a role in caring for his mom, but gaining access to quality in-home care has been a gamechanger for his mom and everyone who cares for her. And that has given Geoffrey peace of mind for the first time in his life.

“If we didn’t have home care, we’d be waiting for my mom’s demise. We’d be waiting it out. My mom has been dying since I was a young boy. Now she is living. I cannot imagine going back to the old ways.”

Jeffery Kearney and his mom.

I cannot remember a time that my mom wasn’t sick. We, as a family, survived cancerous tumors in her brain, breast, uterus, and heart. She also dealt with lupus and bipolar disorder; ailments that last a lifetime. My Pops was a busy attorney in private practice and quite a bit of an introvert to boot. Often it was necessary that I pitch in, speaking with the doctors and helping to avert chaos at home. Having a “normal” childhood simply wasn’t an option. Fortunately, we pulled through. There remains a pesky brain tumor which can’t be removed, but my parents continue to move forward. My dad remains my mother’s primary caregiver. I am one of her caregivers from afar.

For many years our family didn’t have health insurance; during that time we had to utilize the emergency room as my mother’s primary care. The inconsistency, not to mention worrying about medical bills, made a stressful situation even more difficult. We were always just awaiting catastrophe or the next bad thing to happen.

Being from a rural area, getting people willing to come out to my parents was a problem, and without Medicaid we could not afford it. The availability of trained workers is limited in rural America. When my mom is doing poorly physically, she does poorly emotionally. So even with assistance, the relationships could be difficult. It was hard for people to handle my mom.

But thanks to Medicaid and the ACA, we eventually found a good combo of people, and the last three years has been pretty positive. It’s gotten a lot easier lately. Now that she has healthcare coverage, she can go to the doctor instead of the ER. She also has home health aides, and that’s made all the difference.

Right now, we are able to have a nurse, Ms. Laigheart, who comes in 3X a week, conducting wellness checks and making sure my mom’s blood pressure and blood/sugar levels are okay. Another home care worker, Beth, comes in another 2 days to help clean up and do household chores that my mom wants to do but can’t physically manage. Ms. Beth is younger and being with her makes my mom feel helpful as she provides wisdom.

My mom enjoys her homecare workers so much she bakes them both sweet potato pies! A treat that will elude you if you’re acting up. My mom doesn’t mind speaking ill of someone if she has reason to; she has a personality that never stops! But she has never spoken ill of them.

If we didn’t have home care, we’d be waiting for my mom’s demise. We’d be waiting it out. My mom has been dying since I was a young boy. Now she is living. I cannot imagine going back to the old ways.

Follow the stories and experiences of Geoffrey and others and join in the conversations about how we create community and break the isolation of caregivers on our Facebook page and on Twitter using the hashtags #WeKnowYouCare and #NationalCaregiversMonth.

November 1 — Leighann Gillis
November 2 — Claire Unsinn
November 3 — Lee Giles
November 4 — Skip Worchester
November 5 — Debbie Borque
November 6 — Miri Lyons
November 16 — Aisha Adkins
November 20 — Heather Bolden

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